The European Union (EU) is the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world.
Together with the 27 EU Member States, the European Commission in Brussels funds more than half of the world’s humanitarian aid work.
The European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) is responsible for funding humanitarian work throughout the world. In 2008, it provided over EUR 936 million (US$1.235 billion) for humanitarian aid programmes in over 70 countries. In 2009, its budget has been set at EUR 777 million (more than US$1 billion). This does not include the aid given separately by EU Member States.
Funds are spent on goods and services such as food, clothing, shelter, medical provisions, water supplies, sanitation, emergency repairs and mine-clearing. The Commission, through ECHO, also funds disaster preparedness and mitigation projects in regions prone to natural disaster.
There are around 170 European-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as United Nations humanitarian agencies and the organisations within the Red Cross family which receive ECHO funding. These partners run projects which help the victims of conflicts and natural disasters.
This humanitarian aid is provided to victims of crises on a needs basis, regardless of their race, religion or political affiliations. The European Commission’s humanitarian support helps around 20 million people each year.
the cholera outbreak in 2009
– photo taken at Espungaberra, Sofala province
ECHO is committed to alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable people in Mozambique. During 2007-2009 it committed a total of EUR 9.75 million. Of that, EUR 1.78 million was spent on disaster risk-reduction and preparedness activities under the DIPECHO programme. This programme supports strategies that enable local communities and institutions to better prepare for, mitigate and respond adequately to natural disasters. Ultimately, the aim is to increase their resilience and decrease their vulnerability in the face of such disasters.
The specific activities undertaken include: flood-risk and vulnerability mapping; canal clearing to reduce flooding; developing and strengthening of community early-warning systems (EWS) and dissemination of EWS messages; strengthening coordination at local, regional and national level; preparation of evacuation plans, disaster-response plans at community level and undertaking simulations and drills; awareness-raising campaigns through; capacity-building of local and national disaster bodies by training authorities in disaster preparedness issues; stabilisation of river banks by planting trees and grasses; construction of cyclone- and flood-proof houses and public buildings used for shelter in case of disasters that are easily replicable; training local masons to construct such structures; development of flood-resilient water systems, and the piloting of livelihood asset flood protection measures.
ECHO is also funding food security projects to support the recovery of the productive activities of cyclone and flood-affected farming and fishing families in Mossuril and Ilha de Moçambique (Nampula) and Morrumbala (Zambezia). Following the cholera outbreak in southern Africa, ECHO committed almost EUR 500,000 to Mozambique.
DG ECHO follows Mozambique from its office in Harare (Zimbabwe) but is represented by the Delegation of the European Commission to Mozambique.